What’s the difference between suspense and horror? One is sensing, the other is seeing; one is expectation, the other is follow-through; one leaves the bloody details to your imagination, the other shows that imagination can fall pitifully short. One is ”The Others” and the other is ”From Hell.” The former, directed by Spain’s Alejandro Amenabar, hearkens back to elegant, dark-and-stormy Hollywood ghost stories like ”The Uninvited”: Nicole Kidman, wound tighter than 20-weight fishing line, hides her two pale children from the light and from whatever is bumping around in the darkness of her ancient mansion. The climactic twist isn’t the point so much as the getting there: Slow (maybe too slow for viewers with TV-fed metabolisms and other modern conditions) and inexorable, ”The Others” plays out like a particularly unnerving campfire tale.
”From Hell,” by contrast, lays the body parts on the table: The Hughes brothers’ interpretation of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s comic-book interpretation of the Jack the Ripper myth is pretty much ”Seven” by way of ”The Alienist.” Alternating perverse Victorian curlicues like police inspector Johnny Depp’s taste for opiates with graphic throat-slitting and disemboweling, ”Hell” mixes freemasonry, the Elephant Man, and a really bad Heather Graham performance into a steam-punk freak show that vibrates with dread. If ”The Others” proves that less is more, ”From Hell” proves that sometimes more will do just fine. ”The Others”: B+; ”From Hell”: B